Nikka Whisky Gains Two New Apple Brandy Barrel Finished Japanese Whiskies

By Nino Kilgore-Marchetti / September 18, 2020

For the Nikka Whisky Distilling Co., located in Japan, apples are said to “have persisted as a symbol of promise” for it for more than 80 years. A large part of this relationship focused on the fact that, back in the early days of Nikka, apple related products such as apple juice, apple jelly, apple sauce, and apple wine help sustained it while founder Masataka Taketsuru waited for his first whiskies to mature.

Now, in relation to this and also to mark the 100th anniversary of Taketsuru and his Scottish wife Jessie Roberts “Rita” Cowan, two apple brandy barrel finished whiskies are being released. One each heralds from the two Nikka distilleries of Miyagikyo, located in Sendai, on the northern part of Japan’s main island, and Hokkaido, based on Japan’s northern island.

Nikka Whiskies Finished In Apple Brandy Barrels

Nikka Whiskies Finished In Apple Brandy Barrels (image via Hotaling & Co.)

The Yoichi Single Malt Whisky Finished in Apple Brandy Barrels, according to those behind it, is aged in various casks including new American oak and sherry casks, before getting the apple brandy cask finishing. It is said of this expression that “the sweetness from the apples highlight the pear and gentle peaty notes.”

By comparison, the Miyagikyo Single Malt Whisky Finished in Apple Brandy Barrels is “aged in mainly new American oak, ex-Bourbon barrels, and sherry casks, with the sherry casks providing a dominant flavor component, the whisky contains notes of apple honey, sage, and vanilla,” before being transferred to the apple brandy casks.

Both expressions are distilled from 100% malted barley, with the finishing event mentioned above happening for over six months. They are non-chill filtered as well.

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“The marriage of Masataka and Rita means a lot for us as it is the prologue of Nikka Whisky, prior to the foundation,” said Emiko Kaji, Nikka Whisky international business development manager, in a prepared statement. “For this anniversary, we came up with the idea to release something special using our assets of apple products symbolizing Rita.

“These whiskies showcase the elegant effects of apple brandy wood finish, in addition to the beautiful contrast between Yoichi and Miyagikyo.”

As it stands now plans call for both whiskies, being imported by San Francisco’s Hotaling & Co., to be made available starting this month at select retailers in California, New York, Texas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Florida, Colorado, Washington State, and Tennessee. Both are bottled at 40% ABV and will price around $250 per 750 ml bottle.